Writing Sya




Goodbye, Year Nine

Well, that's it. For this year at any rate. If anyone is wondering what I'm doing whenever it's not November, check out my main blog. For the Nanowrimo obsessed, you can either meander around this site to read my novels from this year and previous years or check out my links page for other people's Nanowrimo novels and weblogs.

At the moment, I'm working on a short story tentatively titled "Salamander and Dragon" which has been stewing in the back of my mind for a while. The story takes place in 1930s Pike Place Market which is overrun by unicorns in human disguise--except they are starting to forget that they were unicorns in the first place. I started working on it yesterday during the local last minute write-in and got almost three thousand words into it.

As for planning for next year's Nanowrimo novel, I haven't really started to think about it yet. I have this vague notion that I will try some literary or experimental fiction, but I can never really plan too far ahead as new ideas may come in the intervening time.

Besides, next year will be my tenth year of Nano-ing. A full decade of Nanowrimo. My mind boggles.

[ posted by sya on 6:59 PM : (0) comments ]


Ode to the End

I just realized: Beethoven, a secondary character in this year's Nanowrimo novel, wrote nine complete symphonies. Winter on a Watch Glass is my ninth Nanowrimo novel. I wonder if the choice of Beethoven over other composers was partially based on the unconscious recognition of this coincidence.

It is the last day of November and I am sure many people are cramming in those last minute words. I'm worried about other deadlines at the moment, but for Nano, I'm finished. I passed 50k on the twenty-first but I kept writing because the story wasn't finished. And I harbored the hope that I would beat my record in 2005 of 74k.

I typed in the last word on 1:00 pm, November 29. According to my word processor (Open Office), I had over 90k words. However, due to a discrepancy between Open Office and the validator, I "lost" two thousand words. So officially, I only have 88k words. But still, that's more than 74k.

So what was different this year compared to the previous years? I'm not quite sure. The beginning of the month was somewhat rough emotionally. I knew that if I had decided to quit right then, no one would blame me. There are many things in life that are more important than writing a novel. And I've proved that I can reach 50k eight times already. I technically had nothing else to prove.

But the critical question was, why not? Every year is a challenge of one kind or another. Unless you set out to write the same sort of novel every year, the challenge will always be different. The time is somewhat scattered, but there were six entire days in which I wrote nothing. But skipped days never bothered me before. Why should it now? Besides my grandmother, a stubborn woman herself, wouldn't have wanted me to quit. In a way, Nanowrimo is about persistence. You have to ask yourself: are you persistent enough to keep going even when everything seems bleak? Or are you the sort of person who drops out at any opportunity? I do not quit at things in real life--otherwise, I wouldn't be where I am now--so why quit now?

Another thing that I attribute to my increased word count this year is Twitter and the recently instigated word sprints. Eventually, I did my own self-imposed sprints that were more conducive to my schedule, but I think this actually helped me increase the number of words I got in an hour (along with a little typing game that I had started playing). Where in previous years I averaged about one thousand words for each hour, this year I cut that time in half. There were even times when I wrote more than one thousand words in thirty minutes. This also resulted in chapters that were twice as long as the ones in previous years.

And the story itself? I'm not really sure what to say about it at this point. I think it's a little too close to the time I finished it to have anything about it sink into me. Was I passionate about the story? I'm also not quite sure what to say to that either. However, I knew that I wanted to see the end to it. I think there were times when it was obvious that I was flagging--especially when zombies started appearing. Otherwise, everything in the story was either planned or already simmering at the back of my mind.

So the end result? A historical dark fantasy located in a thinly veiled early 19th century Heidelberg with necromancy, poisonings, zombies, and death by belly dancing. Napoleon is also involved somehow. It's here, which can either be read in installments or downloaded in its entirety.

[ posted by sya on 3:10 PM : (0) comments ]


Small Musings

Is it really proper to advertise your own writing group at another writing group?

For those of you who are in the Moscow area and have been attending the write-ins or looking at the Moscow forums with any sort of scrutiny, you probably know what I'm talking about. I will give another example of something similar happening--I once attended a dinner for people who wanted to discuss women in science and engineering, particularly at the University of Idaho. A couple of people showed up from the university next door and briefly talked up their program on women in science and engineering and proceeded to pass around business cards. I had blogged about this and the consensus seemed to be that this was a rude thing to do.

I understand that writers are often a zealous lot--talking up their stories to anyone within hearing range. This isn't an inherently bad thing although it can get annoying. Heck, I get annoyed when I realize I've been rambling a little too long about my plot. Of course, I think I have a lot more tolerance than other people. There are some municipal liaisons (well, from the complaining I've read on the forums, anyway) who probably wouldn't hesitate to put down edicts about no advertising at write-ins.

My first instinct, which I have followed, is to not do anything about it. Some might argue that I'm setting a dangerous precedent in the region for other people to hijack the Nanowrimo write-ins. I would disagree with that. Although I've been mulling about this the entire month--it is mostly just an etiquette problem in my head. This is a college town with a transient population. All will be forgotten next year.

Besides, I'm someone who picks her battles very carefully. An overzealous writer? That barely rates a blip on the screen compared some other personalities I've had to deal with.

[ posted by sya on 7:12 PM : (2) comments ]


Breaking 50k

So yay! I got over 50k tonight at a little before 9:30 PM.

Let's see the dates on which I broke 50k in the previous years:

2009: November 21
2008: November 29
2007: November 22
2006: November 24
2005: November 23
2004: November 27
2003: November 23
2002: November 25
2001: November 25

So it looks like it's my fastest time so far, but it is not so different from, say, 2007 when I reached 50k on November 22.

However, since my plot is nowhere near played out, I believe I will keep on writing and see what total I will end up with at the end of the month.

[ posted by sya on 9:46 PM : (0) comments ]


Word Sprints and Musings about Word Count

Yes, I know I've been remiss about updating this weblog of late. But, well, here's an entry!

As I'm writing this, I've just gotten back from the local write-in. I've been really pleased this year about the steady number of people that have been coming to the write-ins. In previous years, there were maybe two or three other people who came to some write-ins. Other times, none at all. I'm not quite sure what the change was--more participants in general? Less apathy? Write-ins now actually working with other people's schedules? Maybe Jupiter and Venus finally aligned--but how am I supposed to know these things? I'm no astronomer.

One thing that I've done differently compared to last year is that now, I'm on Twitter. If this was the tipping point, maybe more MLs should be on it. Anyways, the reason why I'm mentioning Twitter is because Chris Baty is on it and tonight, he coordinated a word sprint between 8 and 10:30 PM. It helped that I'm on the same time zone as Chris Baty (although this was not always true in previous years) and this coincided with the local write-in.

I'd have to say, those word sprints really helped. I generally average one thousand words per hour. This time, I averaged almost two thousand.

Which brings me back to word count progress. How does this year on November 18 compare to the previous years? Very favorably, actually.

2009: 36535
2008: 32957
2007: 34551
2006: 31202
2005: 35956
2004: 27410
2003: 37724
2002: 30402
2001: 34582

Note that the only year in which I wrote more on this date was on 2003.

I don't really feel like I'm even halfway through the story yet, but who knows what may happen. And, if I beat the word count of 74725 from 2005, I would be very pleased.

[ posted by sya on 11:43 PM : (0) comments ]


Who Needs Practical Reasons Anyway?

Well, I'm quite a bit ahead in terms of word count at this point. In terms of plot, however, I'm way behind. I do not think the story will end at 50k, but even if I do reach that point, I'm going to keep writing until the bitter end.

Lately, I've been thinking about perspectives on participating in National Novel Writing Month--particularly my own perspective. It's not a very interesting one, I'm afraid. It's hard to get excited about a person who likes banging her head against the wall every November for no practical reason at all.

1. I've done this for many years. But not enough years to be in any way impressive. I jumped on the bandwagon when Nanowrimo was already three years old. In internet terms, that's like being middle-aged.

2. I write because I want to write, with no intention of publishing the output from Nano. I view Nanowrimo as a writing exercise. I only post chapters to this website because it helps me to write more. I suppose I would be more worried if writing was the sole passion in my life, but it isn't. There shouldn't be any stipulations for writing for fun. And if this makes me an unambitious twit, then so be it.

3. I am a municipal liaison--which means I'm basically a volunteer who organizes Nanowrimo events in my region. I sort of stumbled into the job because, well, the previous ML was kind of flaky but this isn't something that I regret doing. In fact, I sort of view this as giving back to an organization that really added something worthwhile for me to participate in.

4. As an ML, I think I've been very, very lucky with my region. Because Nanowrimo is an internet phenomenon, there is always the chance that there may be weirdos, creeps, trolls, and some genuinely nutty people trying to horn in on this writing event. I've read some horror stories from some other MLs and I know that things can be a lot worse than just not getting to that 50k.

5. If I had any sense of hubris before posting my first Nano novel, it was completely quashed afterward. It is a myth that anyone will read your Nano novel. No one cares. And if they do, they don't have the attention span. The only people who will glance at it will be perverts searching for busty ninjas and bots from Poland. The most visited page on this site so far is the links page. Everyone wants to read all the blogs (except this one of course--I'm way too boring).

6. After reading a particular thread on the private ML forums, I've decided that I do indeed have a stance on politics and religion in terms of Nano--that those two subjects are off limits unless they specifically pertain to writing someone's novel. I am a fairly non-confrontational in person. I do not like other people going ballistic on me because I happen not to agree (or even do agree) with them.

Recently I've also been following the 30C/30D forums. It's an interesting concept which I had high hopes for, but frankly I don't see any variety because they all sound like literary fiction. This is not the fault of the cover designer as the novels are being picked by Nanowrimo HQ. Judging from the types of stories selected so far, I would be extremely surprised if something blatantly genre (such as fantasy, mystery, romance, sci-fi, horror, etc.) will be picked. You're probably more likely to be picked if you're writing about angsty sentient banana slugs living on a cabbage farmer's watering can in the Czech Republic than about an intrepid farm boy who goes on a quest to get rid of the Ebil Overlord and marry the princess.

[ posted by sya on 10:51 PM : (0) comments ]


Some Disjointed Thoughts

Last night, I was pretty tired and only managed a little over a hundred words. Soon, I'll be taking off to the airport and I'm not sure if I'll be able to access the internet at all while I'm gone, so don't expect any updates for the next couple of days.

I am aiming to introduce some real historical figures in the next chapter. Beethoven and his long suffering nephew, Karl. I'm going to take a few artistic liberties with them--so just consider them living in an alternate universe. I am also thinking of using Beethoven as a mouthpiece for me, when I'm feeling a bit ranty and cranky. Unfortunately, there were no yuppies in 1815, so I will have to figure out a 19th century equivalent.

Due to a twist in the conversation in chapter three and deleting spam about certain enhancement drugs this morning, I am considering adding a novel length gag. Since the main character is an apothecary/pharmacist, I might have her continually trying to semi-seriously pitch her medicines for certain gentlemanly afflictions to male characters who are obviously not in need of it.

I need a different name for my mad count. He can't be Ludwig because Beethoven is.

[ posted by sya on 8:45 AM : (0) comments ]

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